He may not be Irene Cara, but this month Dennis Shiao tells his inspiring personal branding story. It’s something you might have got a hint of when we chatted to him on the podcast, from the Yankees, through virtual events to lights camera, action. 


Ever since I was 8 years old, I’ve been a fan of the New York Yankees.

Growing up, I watched every game I could and even converted my mom into becoming a fan. In the early 2000s, on a whim, I created a New York Yankees blog using the free platform Blogger (acquired by Google in 2003). I launched the blog during the off-season and wrote about player moves the Yankees should be making.

My first blog becomes mini-famous

I emailed the beat writer who covered the Yankees for a local newspaper and shared the link to the blog. A few weeks later, in his Sunday column, I was listed as the Blog of the Week by the same writer.

It was my fifteen minutes of fame! I still have a copy of the newspaper, tucked away in a storage box in my garage. The writer provided the name and URL of my blog, then featured an excerpt from one of my recent posts.

A few years later, I’d make the transition from personal blogging to professional blogging. And that’s when I connected blogging to my personal brand.

While I always dreamed of doing sports writing for a living, that never came to pass. So that Yankees blog didn’t connect with the personal brand I wanted to build as a professional. Virtual events did, however.

As I wrote at Content Marketing Institute, I was laid off during the 2008 Financial Crisis. Inspired by David Meerman Scott, I immediately launched a blog about a topic I was an expert in: virtual events.

Thus began my personal branding journey. I blogged about virtual events once a week for 2-3 consecutive years. I established myself as an authority in that (at the time) niche topic. My personal branding journey has been rooted in writing and has since branched out to social media, email newsletters and meetups.

In this post, I’ll share tips with fellow marketers on how you can manage and grow your personal brand.

Beginner phase: get published

Your Facebook posts are only seen by your friends (and only by a few of them) and your brilliant work emails and Slack messages are only seen by your colleagues. Publish something on the web, however, and the entire planet can potentially see it and read it.

I think of writing as ‘putting something out into the world’. It’s possible that no one notices, but it’s equally possible that it gets read and it makes an impact. Let’s say you publish your first blog post and it gets 10 page views in the first two weeks.

A disaster, right?

But then a stranger emails you. She read your post and says that it made her think differently about her marketing. She’s going to apply your ideas to her next project and she thanks you. What do you think now?

I’d tell you that your personal brand just ticked up a notch.

Yes, it’s one person. But the positive impact you made on one person is an indication that if you keep at it, you’ll impact many more.

First step? Explore writing for your company’s blog.

If that’s not an option, set up a Medium account or publish an article on LinkedIn. Each site has a built-in audience. On LinkedIn, your post may be seen by a lot of your first degree connections.

The first few posts you publish can serve as valuable writing samples. Take your best-performing samples and use them in pitches for guests posts on other sites. As a marketer, getting published on HubSpot’s Marketing blog would be a big win. Check out their guest post guidelines and follow them to a tee.

Also, read this step-by-step guide on guest blogging by Content Marketing Institute’s Ann Gynn and consider this systematic approach from Maureen Jann. If you’re a content marketer, aspire to get published one day at Content Marketing Institute.

Intermediate phase: get on camera

Your first few blog posts were a hit.

As Dr. Seuss would say, “You’re off to great places! Today is your day!”

Ride the momentum by getting out from behind the keyboard. During this global pandemic, we’re on video meetings all the time, so we’re kind of expecting to see and hear our peers in the marketing world.

Do that by recording short videos.

I like to record a video when I share content on social media. I use Screencastify, a Chrome plug-in. I record a 30-60 second video about the content I’m sharing. Screencastify allows me to share my desktop in the video, but I usually skip that and just show myself.

I’ll then include that video (along with the link I’m sharing, of course) on LinkedIn, Twitter and/or Facebook. When I first started attaching videos to my LinkedIn posts, the algorithm must have said, “Nice! Well done! We’ll push this out to all of your connections right now!”

I’d get hundreds (or even thousands) of video impressions, tons of likes and lots of comments. I rode that wave for several months and it was great. Simply record a video and engagement would skyrocket.

Now, though, I’m seeing fewer views and engagement on LinkedIn videos. The algorithm must be saying, “OK, we get it. But it’s no longer as novel.” The lesson: enjoy the bump while you can. I bet that your first few videos on LinkedIn will take off. So give it a try!

Advanced phase: launch a podcast

A few disclaimers:

I don’t have my own podcast. So do as I say, not as I do.

Second: it’s a crowded space right now, so figure out your unique angle or format. For a good example, look no further than this site, where Ian Truscott hosts the Rockstar CMO FM podcast. I have no doubt that the podcast has enhanced the Rockstar CMO brand, as well as Ian’s personal brand.

Ian has a distinct vibe on his podcasts, along with great guests. Recently, he started featuring a segment in which he’d sit down at the piano bar with Robert Rose and enjoy a cocktail together. It’s so fun to listen to.

Before you jump in with podcasting, formulate a plan and be sure you can commit to the time investment. A lot of podcasts fall off after Season 1, neve to be heard from again. Launching a podcast is like adopting a puppy: it requires constant care and feeding.

Robert Rose wrote a fantastic post that breaks down his end-to-end podcasting production process. Robert has produced 235 episodes of This Old Marketing (with Joe Pulizzi) and 66 episodes of The Weekly Wrap (from Content Marketing Institute).

Robert estimates that each episode of The Weekly Wrap takes 9-14 hours. I listen to The Weekly Wrap each week and love it. I appreciate the time Robert puts in to make it such an enjoyable listen.

Get started. Yes, right now.

Recording a video or hosting a podcast may be something you never do. And that’s fine. I urge you, however, to get started now with the beginner steps. Put your thoughts out into the world and see how the world reacts. It’s an enjoyable journey and your personal brand comes along for the ride.

When baseball returns to the United States: go Yankees!

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